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The Kiss Of Death

The alley was dark, the moon overhead was obscured by the rooftops of buildings. That was the way the figure liked it. The shadows were deepening and the figure began to see stars overhead, twinkling into an observable magnitude. It was a warm night, though, a cool wind was blowing from off the water down at the harbour. Somewhere in the distance music was playing, an old sea-fairing melody that had been steeped into the citys history & the history of her glorious navy. But the figure did not concern itself with that. History was a fine thing, but the here & now was what the Thiefreign was concentrated on. The figure had been waiting here for more than an hour, patiently bidding its time, watching the street beyond the alley. Many people had passed by the entrance of the alley, yet the figure still lay in wait. There was no impatience in this idleness, only a sense of purpose & duty. A mission so important, that only the figure could undertake it. Out of all of the thousands of members of the Thiefreign, the figure had been chosen for this important task. It was its duty to be successful this night. It was the figures destiny to undertake this task & bring infamous glory to the Thiefreign. A man in a red robe passed by the entrance of the alley. The figure took a deep breath, checked its weapons & tools then silently stepped out into the street beyond.

It was the beginning of the evening & he had left the palace as soon as he could get away from all of the other courtiers. It had been a long & trying day as the never ending dramas of court had seemed to be of particular importance. Maybe it was because the harvest had not been as good as last years. Maybe because there was dissent amongst the Jewelers Guild over the new tax the Queen had placed on precious stones. Maybe it was just because it was a full moon tonight. The courtier didnt know. In fact, he didnt really care. He was late. Late for a rendez-vous with a man who had a business

proposition regarding the aforementioned Jewelers Guild. Some way to make some extra money that could help support the courtiers familys failing agricultural interests. The courtier looked up suddenly, feeling a little lost. No, he was in the right place. He had just gotten distracted by his own thoughts & had lost track of where he was for a moment. Then something caught his eye & he turned his head to the right. A woman stood there with long ravenous hair & scantily clad a street worker no doubt eyeing him intently. She smiled at him, leaning a little more on her right leg in the process. He smiled back then turned his gaze back to his destination. It was a small tavern built of stone, two stories high. He watched as various people came & went. That old sea-fairing song was being sung by patrons inside & the courtier could almost imagine a motley bunch of commoners gathered around the hearth of the tavern bellowing out the melody in a drunken rhapsody. I can make you sing like that. A womans voice interrupted his reverie. The courtier turned back to the right & suddenly realized that the woman hed exchanged a smile with was now standing right next to him. He quickly took on an air of righteous indignation and began to walk towards the tavern. The man youre expecting to find is not there, mLord. The woman informed him. In fact, I doubt he will be able to ever meet you again. The courtier swung round, his hand instinctively going to the hilt of his rapier, facing the woman. Who do you think you are? Who would you like me to be, mLord? she asked. The street woman, if that was what she really was, now wielded a falchion. Her deep brown eyes were filled with purpose & passion. She stood in a battle stance, ready for whatever the courtier phantsied he could do in this situation. Who were you expecting, Lord Jstra Sulma of Irphwkhpma? the woman took a step forward, A scheming merchant perhaps? She swung her blade & Lord Irphwkhpma was forced to step back. By this time, he had drawn his rapier & tried to lunge at his assailant. Or maybe a cheap whore looking for a rich noble to bed? The woman taunted him & swatted his thrust aside at the same time. Mind, you arent all that rich anymore Who are you!?! he bellowed lunging again but the woman simply darted out of the reach of his rapier. Suddenly she was next to him, kicking his feet out from under his

legs. His rapier bounced loudly on the cobblestones & rolled away. He was now unarmed, laying on his back with this scantily clad woman standing over him, her falchion poised above his neck. She was smiling the same smile she had offered him when he had first seen her standing on the street corner. I am the Kiss Of Death. She informed him while bending over & kissing him passionately upon his lips. As her lips withdrew from his quivering grimace & her long black hair revealed the courtiers face, a stream of warm blood was running out of the top of his throat. She stood up, letting a piece a parchment fall upon the chest of the former Lord of Irphwkhpma & then she was gone. All that was left was the corpse of a courtier, the refrain of that sea-fairing song, the cool breeze coming up from the harbour & a full moon above that had seen all.

The priest sat, diligently writing at a large oak desk in an ancient office that had been used for hundreds of years by his predecessors. A single window to his left let the silver moonlight shine through into the candlelit chamber encased in bookshelves. Hundreds of tomes arranged in some kind of order along many shelves that rose from floor to ceiling & covered every wall save for the window & the wooden door on the eastern side of the room. Without any notice or aplomb, this door suddenly opened & a minor priest entered. He was clothed in the same garb as his superior: white robes edged with silver pattern-work around the neckline, hem & sleeve-ends. A silver rope tied at the waist completed the outfit along with a silver dove etched upon the left breast of the robe. The younger priest had a shaved head & inquisitive brown eyes that were cast down in the presence of his superior. May the Light fill you, Brother Asdho. His superior salutated without looking up from his work. May the Light fill you, Chancellor Hnirwsdh. Asdho intoned. I understand something has happened in the city below. The Grand Chancellor of the Paladins Of Light asked, still not looking up from the work before him on the desk.

Yes, Chancellor. One of Her Majestys loyal noblemen has been slain by the Kiss Of Death. I am afraid it was the Lord of Irphwkhpma who met this uncivilised fate. The Grand Chancellors quill stopped for a moment then continued to transcribe his thoughts onto the parchment. Thank you for this information, Brother. He replied after a long silence broken only by the sound of his quill tracing across the paper. May the Light go with your steps. May the Light be with your steps, Chancellor. Grand Chancellor Simv Hnirwsdh, Paladin Of Light & Destroyer Of Darkness continued to write as if not noticing that Brother Dhowm Asdho, Paladin Of Light & Grand Chancellors Secretary had left the room. However, as soon as the door to his office had closed, Chancellor Hnirwsdh put his quill down & turned to face the silver moonlight that streamed into his office.

On one of the Naval quays in the secure section of the citys harbour, Coxswain Xust Wpphona waited nervously next to a number of crates not far from the berth where the Battleship Dhowzov lay at anchor. Xust was out of sight of the ship but could keep an eye on both ends of the quay from his position. His right hand stayed close to the hilt of his dirk that was sheathed at his belt. He gently brushed aside a lock of blond hair from the front of his brown eyes with his left hand. You seem agitated, Xust. A deep voice surprised him from behind. The sailor jumped slightly, almost drawing his dirk but refrained, having recognised the voice. You shouldnt sneak up on me like that. Xust scowled, turning around to face a man with a short crop of blond hair. The mans blue eyes penetrated Xusts soul deeply & the coxswain felt uncomfortable, as he always did when they were forced to meet. The man wore a black tunic & dark leggings. A golden dragon pendant hung from a chain around his neck & a golden hilted katana hung at his waist. Whats this all about? I had a hard time getting out of my duties tonight.

All in good time, Xust. The blond haired man continued. First, is everything ready, as we discussed? Aye. The message was sent out as you had requested. There was no trouble cyphering it into the usual ships correspondence. I received a reply just this morning, actually. The contact was to be in position tonight. I assume something has gone wrong & that is why you are here. Mortal plans are bound to fail from time to time, Xust. Ovghphboy accepts the mortal failings of her followers. What has gone wrong, Lormvar? Xust asked apprehensively. What do you know of an assassin named The Kiss Of Death? Lormvar asked in a quiet & steady voice. Xust paled at the mere mention of the womans name. She is the greatest assassin in the city. The Kiss Of Death is a high ranking officer in the Thiefreign. Her tasks are ordered directly by the Council Of Nightblades. What does she have to do with all of this? Xust was really worried now. His brown eyes darted from one end of the quay to the other looking for any change in the shadows. vulnerable. Let us just say that the contact had an encounter with The Kiss Of Death. Lormvar replied, noting the sailors disquiet. And you dare to meet me here? Xust demanded. You dont know what this woman is capable of. Ovghphboy protects her servants. Lormvar shrugged. We are safe enough. Xust again scanned the quay. The shadows had not changed. He was unsure whether this was a good sign or an ill omen. The coxswain's mind was racing & his adrenaline was pumping making his ears ring. He took a few deep breaths, gripped his dirks hilt tighter & stared directly into Lormvars blue eyes. I suggest we lie very low for the next little while. The Thiefreign has somehow managed to uncover our scheme, as careful as we have been with our plans. In any kind of condition, this is a bad development. But right now, when things are so dangerous, this may be very explosive. If the Council Of Nightblades put a hit out on the contact, then the same may be assumed to be true of the rest of us. He suddenly felt very

Fear not, Xust. Ovghphboy protects us against these followers of Khkusgyy, The Extracting Eye. Do you doubt our goddesss power? I doubt not her power, Lormvar. I doubt our own ability to be safe when the Thiefreign has us in its sights. All will come out as planned, Xust. Trust in your faith. Lormvar smiled. May the Golden Dragon be thy shadow. We may need her to do more then shadow us. But Lormvar had disappeared into the darkness. Coxswain Xust Wpphona stared at the empty blackness before him. Then he turned & ran back to his ship as fast as his stout legs could carry him.1

Gkhjsa Vosbhj stood idly at the base of the grand stairwell of the Temple of Khkusgyy watching various members of the Thiefreign walk by. Each Thief that passed bowed slightly when they came close. Her black robes with their golden edges blended in with the shadows in the underground city that was the realm of the citys untouchable Thiefreign but her glorious blue eyes noticed every face & every detail in the cavern beyond. The distant sound of metal scraping on stone filled her ears yet did not seem to disturb her thoughts, thoughts that were hoping that her charge had been successful. A great calamity was brewing in the city above, unknown to the officials charged with the protection of the citys citizens. A threat that only seemed to have been noticed by the Thiefreign. If tonights mission was unsuccessful, then the enemy knew a great deal more then the Council of Nightblades had at first understood. Just as these thoughts were passing through Gkhjsas mind,2 the person she had been waiting for walked around a corner to Gkhjas left. May the Hand always be lain upon thy shoulder, Priestess. the woman intoned, bowing her head. And may the Hand always steady your blade, Roythigla. Gkhja replied anxiously. What news of the city above?

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December 12, 2005 December 28, 2005

Things are as they should be, for the time being. Roythigla replied as the two women began to ascend the grand stairwell of the Temple Of Khkusgyy. There still lurks darker interests in this affair. Interests that are foreign & domestic. Have you made your report to the Council? I am to meet with them within the next couple of hours. The great doors of the Temple swung open at this point & the two women entered the annex.3 Three great doors were now before them, the middle one was open whilst the other two remained closed. Beyond this middle gateway was the temple sanctuary, which consisted of two rows of pillars holding up the cavern roof that had been decorated with the symbols of Khkusgyy and of the Thiefreign. A number of pews were lined along a centre aisle that lead to the Altar Of Khkusgyy at the end of the sanctuary. The two women passed along the aisle and circled the altar. Once behind, Ghkjsa opened a small door hidden by some curtains and lead Roythigla into the passageway beyond. They walked in silence, past a number of doors on either side of the corridor until finally entering one on the right hand side. Ghkjsas office was orderly & clean. She sat behind the small desk at the back of the room that faced the door. Roythigla sat down in the chair in front. What kind of foreign interests are you talking about? Ghkjsa asked after offering the other woman some water. It seems there is some kind of Grimerian influence in this affair. The dark haired Roythigla explained, Lord Irphwkhpma had some parchment from the Grimerian embassy with him. The Kiss Of Death suddenly produced three sheets of parchment and placed them on the desk of the High Priestess Of Khkusgyy. This affair is much more complex then the Council at first realized. It seems that orders are being sent from Grimeria to agents here within the city. Lord Irphwkhpma was a pawn in a much larger game of chess. So who is calling the shots? I am not sure. But I can think of a few possible candidates, all of which are high ranking officials at the Grimerian Embassy.

December 29, 2005

Ghkjsa picked up the parchments and quickly read through them. This is just a business proposition regarding Lord Irphwkhpmas agricultural interests. It mentions an investor from Grimeria but nothing else. The seal at the bottom is from the Grimerian Embassy. Roythigla informed her. I highly doubt that the Ambassador is looking to invest in Ovludi agriculture. But I know a few Grimerians who might be interested in wheat and grain. So what is your plan? the Priestess inquired. I know someone who may help me pinpoint who is behind this investment.

January 15, 2006